RSB principle and Criteria on Water

(To comment on this principle, and its associated criteria and guidance, please use the Discussion Page.)

9. Biofuel production shall optimize surface and groundwater resource use, including minimizing contamination or depletion of these resources, and shall not violate existing formal and customary water rights.


  • 9.a The ESIA outlined in 2a shall identify existing water rights, both formal and customary, as potential impacts of the project on water availability within the watershed where the project occurs.

Guidance: Downstream water users or ground water users in the area must be identified. No modification of the existing rights can happen without the consent of the parties at stake.

  • 9.b Biofuel production shall include a water management plan appropriate to the scale and intensity of production.

Guidance: Water sources located on the production area must be inventoried and mapped. Annual amounts of water withdrawn for biofuel production must be recorded.

  • 9.c Biofuel production shall not deplete surface or groundwater resources.

Guidance: The use of water for biofuel production must not be at the expense of the daily basic water needs of local communities. The use and share of water resources for biofuel production must be defined in agreement with local community and water user committees shall be consulted where appropriate. Water used for irrigation or biomass processing must not be withdrawn beyond replenishment capacity of the water table or tank. Water-intensive biofuel crops and biofuel production systems must not be established in water-stressed areas. The most efficient use of water must be sought through the use of crops that fit the local conditions.

  • 9.d The quality of surface and groundwater resources shall be maintained at or enhanced to their optimal level under local conditions.

Guidance: The optimal level of quality is to be defined through the consultation of local experts, communities and producers, taking into account local climatic, geologic and ecologic conditions. Adequate precautions must be taken to avoid run-off and contamination of surface and ground water resources, in particular from chemicals. Buffer Zones must be set between production site and surface or ground water resources. Waste water must be adequately managed.

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